Is critical thinking a lost art?

I’ve been wondering that a while now. Everyone seems too eager to get their opinions from outside sources now. They get them from entities that hand them out with surface level justifications and express them in fits of self-satisfaction as if to say “hey, see how smart I am?”. No, you’re not smart, you’re a parrot.

I really don’t want people to think this is a political place, because its not. No one out there is going to be convinced of anything because I posted on it here, and I wouldn’t necessarily want them to anyway. I also have no desire to be one of the aforementioned entities. Finally, politics isn’t friendly, and I like to think I am.

BTW, I’m fairly conservative in a very classical sense and I’m a big proponent of decentralized and smaller government. Usually that puts me on the Republican side of the aisle, but I’m unaffiliated with any party. I tell you this so you can consider the source of this screed and go ahead and tune me out right away. ;)

Long ago I’m certain I remember civilized people being able to engage in political discussion without getting angry, but that doesn’t seem to be in vogue now. There’s a political atmosphere of righteous indignation that’s just poison to that sort of thing. A big part of it is probably caused by the amount of information out there and how many different things there are to debate, but I really have no clue why. I just know that come 2008 there will be more people voting against someone than for someone, and that just kind of sucks.

But on to critical thought. I think about the whole immigration debate and wonder why the hell anyone is surprised at who’s saying what. Conservatives are ripping Bush a new one over it, Congress is enjoying it’s lowest approval ratings in history, the border is wide open, and there’s no resolution in sight. I get sucked in to discussions on it with people on message boards and just marvel at the stupidity there. I’m sure others marvel at my own, but I’m at least thinking about it all before I post. But I honestly don’t have much of a dog in the hunt, although I would like to know more about it all.

So I want to apply a little critical thinking to the debate and maybe learn something from the more left-leaning people that frequent this blog (yes, all three of you. Ok, both of you…). Let’s start with the basic conservative idea. These people have broken our laws and should not be rewarded for that with citizenship. Well, it’s hard to argue with that but we have umpteen million of them over here and need to figure out what we do with them. Also, business tends to like cheap labor, and the illegal immigrants who make it over here have a tendency to work their asses off, pay their bills on time, and go to Church on Sunday. All of those are traits that the right tends to admire in people.

What about the liberal message? These people work hard at jobs that Americans won’t do, and we can’t send them back because they may be persecuted or we might break up their families, etc… Maybe the reason Americans won’t do the jobs is because the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide artificially drives the wages down, and you’re seeing the demand curve in action. And maybe they should have considered the impact on their families before breaking the law. Finally, aren’t Liberals the champions of the lower classes? Here’s a group that’s dominating the unskilled labor market at the expense of the lower classes here. It’s not like they’re coming over here and displacing management…

So that’s a capsule of both sides. There’s one more thing, border security. Conservatives want this, and Liberals inexplicably don’t. Why is that? Ask a conservative about border patrols and building a wall and you get a big “HELL YEAH” answer. Ask a liberal and you get risk of confrontation and such. It makes me wonder if they lock their doors at night… Ok, stop there and tell me what I’ve missed. If rank-and-file liberals want a wall and border security, tell me because I’m interested in that sort of thing.

So there you go, the two sides in a nutshell. Why is it a problem? Well, to me it really isn’t because it doesn’t much affect my daily routine, nor my ability to make money and enjoy life. Hey, I’m just being honest.

However, there’s a principle that’s being violated here and that bothers me. I’m a law-and-order type of guy after all, and these people are breaking the law. Why are they? It’s really simple. The rewards outweigh the risks and the benefits are far greater than the costs. Hell, if I was in their general situation you would find me working here illegally too. I’m serious. There’s also a problem with the value of my citizenship being diminished with each incident of successful illegal immigration. Yes, it’s slight enough to be non-existent. Still, it’s there and that’s a problem. Finally, there are some very real economic pr